How would you like to own a business where your raw materials are free, your gross sales exceed one third of a billion dollars per year and you have so much money flowing in that you are able to perform “special favors” for your friends by the awarding of lucrative contracts?  Imagine that you sell this product to everyone in your city and jack up the rates and sell this “essential to life” product to everyone in neighboring towns at a greatly elevated rate. Now imagine the very real fact that you have no competition.

“It’s too good to be true!” you say. You would be wrong. That is exactly what the Detroit Water Department has been doing for the last 20 years.  You see Water departments like Detroit are a natural monopoly and many states regulate water to achieve fairness in this single source monopolistic venue.  Michigan, via the MPSC, regulated the Detroit Water Department from 1967 thru 1995. Apparently a series of “backroom deals” ended this method of insuring fairness in 1995.  Now imagine a lone state representative trying to persuade his governor that we needed to reacquire fairness by reinstating water regulation with the other utilities by the Michigan Public Service Commission. “No, it’s too politically sensitive!” responds the top boss. “Leave it alone”.  The question is: Are the citizens in the communities that are being overcharged for water going to allow their elected officials a pass – OR – Are those citizens going to demand that a return to fairness be achieved?

-- Bob Cushman 

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